Description of Comparison of Levels of Satisfaction with Distance Education and On-campus Programs
Structured Abstract: Introduction: The study compared the level of satisfaction of 101 graduates with a distance education versus an on-campus program. Methods: A self-administered anonymous survey was used to gather information about satisfaction from the recent graduates of a university personnel preparation program in visual impairments (response rate = 57.7%). The survey measured graduates' satisfaction with their programs in six subareas: (1) faculty-student interaction, (2) student-student interaction, (3) fairness of evaluations, (4) organization of courses, (5) adequacy of the difficulty of courses, and (6) practicum or internship experience. Results: The program modality was not a significant predictor of overall satisfaction with a program once we controlled for the confounding variables, including age, program area, and presence of visual impairments (-.277 – .226, 95% CI). However, it was a significant independent predictor of faculty-student interaction (-.616 – -.012, 95% CI) and student-student interaction (-.875 – -.073, 95% CI). Discussion: There was no significant difference in the two groups of graduates' overall satisfaction with the program, but although the findings are preliminary in nature, the graduates from the on-campus program indicated a higher level of faculty-student and student-student interactions. Implications for practitioners: Given the findings of this study, prospective students who are interested in university personnel preparation programs in visual impairments may consider distance education programs an option that may satisfy them. Similarly, these programs may consider continuing their distance education programs as a satisfactory option for many students. However, the lower level of faculty-student and student-student interactions perceived by the distance education graduates may suggest a need to ensure a mechanism that facilitates such interactions more effectively.